The Home Setup

  • Yup, loved that old beast, but had to get rid of it because the missus had an issue about "decor" or some such thing.  Replaced it with a $2500 mahogany twin pedestal desk from a chichi furniture store.  It was really pretty, but I hated working at it.  The knee space was too small and I was forever barking my knee on the fancy carving under the center pencil drawer.

    I finally decided that I'd had it twin pedestal desks and built my own L-shaped desk with a curved transition (see picture above in the chain).  The only drawer is a pencil drawer in the apron.  I have a separate credenza behind me with plenty of storage and a spot for my printer/scanner.  I put all the lessons learned from the many desks I've worked at both at home and at client gigs into this one, and it's been a sheer pleasure to use.  No more knee banging and lots of desk space to work with.  Plus, I've got a spot for my elbows while I type.

  • Oh, tell me about the knee banging! I get that with my old metal desk, and it hurts. I bang my knees because I can't easily see the curvature of the drawers, due to the desk's dark color. And that's because I need to keep my work area dark, because bright lights cause me migraines. I've thought about painting that curvature some right color, so I can see it in my semi-darkness.

    • This reply was modified 2 months, 2 weeks ago by  Rod at work.

    Kindest Regards, Rod Connect with me on LinkedIn.

  • Decades ago I bought a 36" D x 72" L x 28" H desk and the matching 18" D x 72"W x 28" H credenza from my father-in-law when his trucking company was going under. I added a 30" wide keyboard drawer to the desk which holds both my keyboard and mouse. I've used this furniture in my home office in whatever house we've moved to ever since. Sometimes as my personal desk when I did my work at an employer's office, and as my work desk when I've had periods of working from home. I started working from home again about 6 month before the pandemic started. I have always had a dedicated home office room or area of a basement.

    For at least a decade I've handled my personal tasks (including photo editing) on my personal Dell 17" laptop in my La-Z-Boy rocker recliner with the feet up and facing my TV for handling my personal tasks, often while watching some program or movie in the background.

    I never did build a lab at home, but I've been working for a company that is "all in" with Microsoft Azure for the last 5 years, and I can spin up whatever I need to experiment with.

    The biggest change I've made over time was the chair. I originally had some low-end chair I probably got from Staples for $79 in the 90's. About 3 years ago, I "upgraded" to a $20 Facebook Marketplace find that was a high-back executive style chair, but the arms were too high and non-adjustable. I dealt with various shoulder ailments ever since. Maybe it was the chair, maybe just my getting old. My physical therapist advised I get a better chair, so several months ago I bought a reconditioned Steelcase Leap chair for $400 (less than 1/3 the cost of a new one) from a local used office furniture business and it has adjustable everything, including the lumbar support. I'm so much more comfortable and it was definitely worth the investment!

    I am using an employer-provided low-end ThinkPad (I RDP to an Azure VM for almost everything) on an Amazon Basics stand, flanked by two Dell 27" monitors (both in landscape orientation), and using a wireless keyboard (with backlit keys like my personal Dell laptop) and mouse from the Logitech Master series. I upgraded to those a couple of years ago from the bottom-of-the-line wired ones my employer provided. With a 36" deep desk with a "modesty panel" that reaches almost to the floor, I needed cable extensions to cover the distance, and got tired of yanking my mouse out the back of the keyboard drawer if I moved my feet the wrong way. I have a Jabra stereo on-ear headset with a hard headband, and my next upgrade will likely be to that. I much prefer an over-ear headset with a padded headband.

    The desk faces a white-painted concrete block basement wall in my semi-finished basement. I keep the overhead lights off and use a dimmable LED light that I bounce off the wall, mostly to improve my appearance on video calls and soften the contrast of the whole office area. When I need to look at papers I can turn it way up, but mostly I keep it relatively dim - the monitors provide plenty of light for the desk.

    I never print anything for work, but I do have an HP monochrome laser all-in-one on my wireless network. I still have a Canon color inkjet, but I only use it once or twice per year. Once my daughter went off to college, the need for color printing almost vanished.

    My biggest regret was taking so long to upgrade to a truly professional chair. It cost less than my physical therapy copays over the last few years, and might well have eliminated the need for those.

  • 100% agree on the need for a good chair.  I spent too many years with painful lower back from sitting in cheap chairs, so about 12 years ago got myself an Aeron, then upgraded the casters and added a headrest.  It's been amazing.  The pellicle covering and frame still look like new.  The leather armrests and headrest have both been reupholstered recently, but that's the only sign of wear.   I recently added a gel seat pad, but that's just my age showing.

    My back is grateful.

    When I got rid of my computer rack, I consolidated my working rig to a Dell XPS 15 laptop w/ 32GB of RAM and a high-end Samsung 1TB SSD.  I use a 34" Dell curved 4k monitor and Logitech Master series webcam, keyboard and mouse.  I use 2 6TB Worldbook NAS devices for shared storage and backups in addition to the cloud. Very happy with it all.

    I have a Brother color duplex laser printer/scanner that gets about 5 pages a month of use, but toner doesn't dry out, so it's all good.

  • I'm enjoying this conversation. You all are making me think about my home setup.

    Last year I purchased an HP ENVY TE01 desktop, because of the 32 GB of RAM, 2 TB SSD and 2 TB HD drives. Then I took my old HP desktop, put it to the side, removed all monitors from it and keyboard, so I just remote to it. I've got SQL Server Developer Edition loaded on it so I can do development/training.

    But I debated a long time before doing this because I'm wondering if the time had come to stop getting desktop computers. I've got a reasonably good desk which I bought specifically for desktop computers, so some of my decision was based upon trying to justify the cost of that desk. I decided to get one more desktop computer last year, but that might be the last one I ever purchase. Laptop machines are getting powerful enough where it becomes harder to justify a desktop computer. And really, a good docking station with a monitor or two connected to it...

    Kindest Regards, Rod Connect with me on LinkedIn.

  • Oh, I just remembered I also have a USB-C hub to connect everything up to the ThinkPad.

    Most of my employers provided me with laptops for my sole work machine for the last dozen years. It doesn't take much to be able to RDP into a VM and then do all my heavy work there. All I've run local has been Microsoft Office, web browsers, NotePad++, and some  other utility programs. That was true even before I was working in Azure.

    I've been using Dell 17" laptops with 16 GB of RAM for at least a decade as personal machines. That's been good enough, even for Lightroom and Photoshop.

  • Likewise - good ideas floating around on this thread.

    I ditched my last desktop computer about 7 years ago.  It was being used as a virtual machine server with both a Linus distro and a Windows Server w/ Sql Server on it.  Now, whatever server or virtual machine I need can be spun up on Azure.  I get a $150/month credit there as part of my Visual Studio subscription, along with all the OS and dev tools MS offers.  As a result, my physical installation is pretty minimal, to the point of being a "grab and go" dev setup.  I can stuff my laptop in a bag and have everything I'm used to from a dev perspective as long as I have an internet connection.

    In that vein, four years ago I escaped the dysfunctional relationship with my cell phone provider (Verizon) and moved over to Google Fi for a fraction of the price.  The bandwidth is sold for $10/GB and any left over is refunded.  5G hotspot gives my internet access anywhere I go.

  • I've tried to remove a desktop, but I don't get the same resolution or control expanding my laptop to other monitors. Plus, when I am remote, then things are moved about.

    I still keep a desktop with 3 monitors for most work, and I enjoy that. It also runs a container of Teslamate for data logging. I should move that into the cloud, but for now, I haven't spent the time coordinating that.

    I have a standing desk, which works well. A Secret Lab chair for comfort, and a ring light for calls.

    My desk is a mess, but after 30+ years, I'm not sure that is changing anytime soon.

  • I've tried to remove a desktop, but I don't get the same resolution or control expanding my laptop to other monitors. Plus, when I am remote, then things are moved about.

    I still keep a desktop with 3 monitors for most work, and I enjoy that. It also runs a container of Teslamate for data logging. I should move that into the cloud, but for now, I haven't spent the time coordinating that.

    I have a standing desk, which works well. A Secret Lab chair for comfort, and a ring light for calls.

    My desk is a mess, but after 30+ years, I'm not sure that is changing anytime soon.

  • Steve Jones - SSC Editor wrote:

    I've tried to remove a desktop, but I don't get the same resolution or control expanding my laptop to other monitors. Plus, when I am remote, then things are moved about.

    I still keep a desktop with 3 monitors for most work, and I enjoy that. It also runs a container of Teslamate for data logging. I should move that into the cloud, but for now, I haven't spent the time coordinating that.

    I have a standing desk, which works well. A Secret Lab chair for comfort, and a ring light for calls.

    My desk is a mess, but after 30+ years, I'm not sure that is changing anytime soon.

    Steve, don't sweat the messy desk.  After 30 years, you've earned the right to be as messy as you like.  But I do have a solution for you.  We have wonderful  husband/wife grad students from a local university who we hire to clean house for us every two weeks.   When they are due to arrive, I get our desks cleared of clutter so they can clean and dust without all the mess.   I keep hanging folders within easy reach in which I keep the stuff for each of my ongoing projects and that helps with the mess too.  Newest info in the front, oldest in the rear and I regularly get rid of the oldest stuff.

    As for the monitor resolution,  I was having vision issues with my second display, so my latest is a 32" LG model 32UD59 and I am very happy with it.  It has tilt and height adjustments, and the resolution is great.  Also, I was having problems with seeing a a double image especially for text documents, mostly early in the morning.  My eye doc recommend some stuff called Thera Tears Extra dry-eye therapy drops, and they really do help clear up the images for me in about 5 minutes.

    And as I have told you all earlier, when I got to the tri-focal stage,  the original lenses had a sort of standard witdth mid-range ( about arm's length ) portion which was too narrow for viewing the whole screen top-to-bottom, so for years I've had the mid-range portion made quite a bit wider so I can a whole screen without so much head tilt.  I use the middle section for the laptop screen - about 22 inches away, and the top portion for the extra monitor which is about 36 inches away.  I really don't recommend the trifocal lenses without the dividing lines between the different focal lengths.  Those also tended to blur the top and bottom of the display anyway.

     

     

    Rick

    One of the best days of my IT career was the day I told my boss if the problem was so simple he should go fix it himself.

  • I managed to get lucky.  I had just finished renovating my home office when the first lockdown happened.  So I was able to transition to working from home full time with a brand new dedicated space.  I have a 7ft long desk that has space for my personal computer on one side and my work setup on the other.

    My personal setup is a fairly new Dell desktop with dual 27in monitors that I primarily use for photography (and to play podcasts while I'm working).  The work setup is a company-provided laptop, dock and monitor.  I have a logitech bluetooth keyboard and mouse that is paired with both machines.  A few clicks and I can switch from work to home.



    The opinions expressed herein are strictly personal and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of my employer.

  • I only have bifocals (hard-line, not progressives), but I also have dedicated computer glasses optimized for the distance to my monitors from my usual seating position. That saves a lot of neck strain from constantly looking up and down to keep things in focus. Now I can just move my eyeballs.

  • m60freeman wrote:

    I only have bifocals (hard-line, not progressives), but I also have dedicated computer glasses optimized for the distance to my monitors from my usual seating position. That saves a lot of neck strain from constantly looking up and down to keep things in focus. Now I can just move my eyeballs.

    So far I have kept my vision-wear all in a single set of glasses, which saves me running around the house looking for others.  Got lens implants for normal vision and I can drive and watch tv with no glasses.  The bad part is that my wife has seperate sets for reading, sewing, computer, and regular ( she has a hole in a retina )  so I spend time running around looking for the right pair for the passtime.  If it's not glasses, it's cell phones.... but at least we can call those, unless the volume is turned down.

    Rick

    One of the best days of my IT career was the day I told my boss if the problem was so simple he should go fix it himself.

  • m60freeman wrote:

    I only have bifocals (hard-line, not progressives), but I also have dedicated computer glasses optimized for the distance to my monitors from my usual seating position. That saves a lot of neck strain from constantly looking up and down to keep things in focus. Now I can just move my eyeballs.

    I have eyeglasses for working on computers, too. Saves a lot. I just keep my regular glasses nearby for when I have to see something at a distance.

    Kindest Regards, Rod Connect with me on LinkedIn.

  • Steve Jones - SSC Editor wrote:

    I've tried to remove a desktop, but I don't get the same resolution or control expanding my laptop to other monitors. Plus, when I am remote, then things are moved about.

    I still keep a desktop with 3 monitors for most work, and I enjoy that. It also runs a container of Teslamate for data logging. I should move that into the cloud, but for now, I haven't spent the time coordinating that.

    I have a standing desk, which works well. A Secret Lab chair for comfort, and a ring light for calls.

    My desk is a mess, but after 30+ years, I'm not sure that is changing anytime soon.

    Steve, you've GOT to tell me about the standing desk! I've been toying with that idea for a couple of years. I think it would really help, because sitting for extended periods of time isn't good for one. I use Windows 10/11 Clock app to create a Pomodoro timer for me, which works great, but I still think a standing desk would really help. Please, tell me more about what you've got and what you considered, before settling upon the standing desk you're currently using.

    Kindest Regards, Rod Connect with me on LinkedIn.

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